Life is constantly happening all around us, whether we are ready for it or not. Good and bad things don’t always happen when we plan for them to, and sometimes it can be easy to slip into reaction mode. You are the greatest authority on you, and it’s important to know yourself and anticipate what you need to get through this thing we all call life. One of the best things that I learned in my counseling program is that you cannot care for others (like all those little people in our lives) if you do not have your own stuff together. So let’s get information about how to take a break before you break down.
You still need time to recover even if everything seems good.
Sometimes the good things or opportunities can be overwhelming as well. Sometimes the constant growth and progression can wear you out. Make sure that as you hustle and build, you are also practicing self-care and taking the time you need to rest and recover. We often forget to take breaks when things are going well. Everything seems on track and positive and wonderful, but if you are so wound up that one misstep will take you out, then you are not taking care of yourself. Even if it is something little like getting out of the office to walk around the block once, give yourself space to breathe.
Start taking your own advice.
I have found that sometimes the advice and care I give to my friends and family are also things I needed to be reminded of. While it may be just what they need, there is often some truth or lesson for me in there as well. I try to practice what I preach because I have to do it myself to know if it really works, but also because I try to take what I learn and put it into real life use. Knowledge is more powerful when put into practice, so I practice the things that work for me. I attended a conference last year and a young black girl asked a question about why don’t people care more about black children and almost everyone in the room lost it. The moderator stopped and said everyone in this room needs to practice better self-care because we should not be falling apart at one question. She was right. It was a room for of leaders, activists, and more, and we had all been prioritizing everyone else over our own care. She walked us all through a breathing exercise to put down some of what we were carrying and you could feel the mood shift and the room lift.
Give yourself permission to not be okay.
You are strong and powerful and a boss, but that does not mean you are a robot. We all have feelings and needs that need to be honored. It is okay to not be okay, it is okay to need to take a break, it is okay to be less than perfect. In the age of social media living, too many people are competing and comparing instead of turning inward. When life comes at you fast, give yourself permission to stop and catch your breath. Not only is it okay to not be okay, but it’s also okay to be kind to yourself! You are likely more okay than you think you are, and whatever you are is beautiful. Love yourself every day and as often as possible. You are enough.
Signs it might be time for a break…
Are you having an increased emotional response to ordinary things? If I start crying at commercials, I know it’s time for me to take a break.
Are you lashing out at the people closest to you? If I feel myself being unkind, I have to check if I am hangry or out of whack. These are the people that I love, so why would I treat them with anything less than love?
Are you a bit of a negative Nancy? Life is not unicorns and rainbows all the time, but it should be lived with joy as often as possible. If you find yourself constantly being a downer, it is probably time for a recharge.
In times like these, I often remind myself of the words of Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Now it’s time to take a break.
It does not have to be a whole vacation (because time and resources do not always allow that), but there are some little things you can do to give yourself a reset. Take a walk around the block, eat your lunch in the park, read a book, take a few minutes to stretch and strike a yoga pose. There are lots of small, and often free, things that you can do to feed your spirit when you are overwhelmed or overextended.